|Dwayne Brown & Randy Malcolm Standing up for Gay Rights at Jamaica Consulate in NYC|
Stand Up! Against Homophobia in Jamaica
On Monday, November 19, 2012, a group of LGBT Jamaican Activists and Allies held a peaceful protest in front of the Jamaican consulate in New York to condemn continued human rights abuses against LGBT Jamaicans.
This latest protest action was precipitated by a savage attack against a gay student at one of Jamaica’s state run universities, the University of Technology, Jamaica. A video of the attack has gone viral and shows 2 security guards taking turns slapping, kicking and punching the unarmed youngster while an angry mob of students hurled homophobic insults at the young man and demanded that he be released so they too could join in the “fun” of beating him.
Two of the four guards who were caught on tape during the attack have been dismissed and taken into police custody. The other guards who stood by and did nothing remain employed to the security company contracted to provide security at the university.
Since January 2011, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) which is largest LGBT organization on the island recorded fifty-one incidents of attacks against LGBT including, home invasions, physical assaults and mob attacks. In June 2012, members of the Jamaican LGBT community reported that eight gay men had been murdered in the prior three months.
During her December 2011 election campaign, Jamaica’s new Prime Minister, the Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller promised to call for a Parliamentary conscience vote to review the country’s 148 year old anti-sodomy law. This law, imposed during the period of British colonization, imposes a 10 year prison sentence at hard-labor for even private acts of consensual adult same-sex intimacy. The Prime Minister also said she would appoint an LGBT individual to her cabinet, breaking with the anti-gay stance of her predecessor, Bruce Golding who in 2008 that he would never allow gays to form part of his government. Partly as a result of her courageous stance in this notoriously homophobic country, Mrs. Simpson-Miller was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s top 100 most influential persons for 2011, ahead of U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham-Clinton. However, nearly a year after her promise, the Prime Minister has not taken steps to bring the issue of the law to the floor of Parliament.
Fundamentalist religious groups in Jamaica with strong ties to North American evangelical associations have strongly opposed a repeal of the law, claiming that it will open the door to marriage equality. At the same time the website of the country’s Ministry of Health calls for a repeal of the law in order to aid the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The Anti-Homophobia Stand goals are to highlight the anti-gay violence and inhumane treatment of LGBT persons in Jamaica; hold the Government of Jamaica accountable for failing to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination through policy legislations and crime fighting measures; and urge Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson to end the discrimination and inhumane treatment of LGBT Jamaicans.
It is time for the Government of Jamaica to protect and preserve the human rights of LGBT Jamaicans. We the people will continue to stand and speak out against homophobia until the civil rights of LGBT Jamaicans are protected.”